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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Isn’t there something about waking up nestled in flannel sheets, topped off by a big, old homemade comforter? Feather pillows at your head, snow swirling outside the window. Dogs waiting to be let out. Sliding your feet into sleepers that could pass for two lumps of ice. If that doesn’t bring you back to reality in a slamming hurry, I don’t know what does.

It is a RARE occasion that I sleep (or get to sleep) past 5 a.m. Sometimes it is the dogs, sometimes it is a sense of duty; gotta get to the trail report, look up various weather info, check out the other various trail reports, but obviously WAY before that happens, I do have to look up Juan Valdez and get that coffee a brewing. Did I tell you he named his donkey after me???

You know me by now, I have to have my morning coffee. I don’t have any the rest of the day, but I DO have two mini thermos’s of coffee in the a.m…and I’m usually done with it by 9:30 a.m. Dan thought I must be getting too much caffeine when he realized that I sneeze without closing my eyes. But the best thing that has happened is that I can now type 75 words per minute…with my toes! HA!

But this time of year in particular I enjoy my morning coffee. It is the ONLY time of the year I make Amish Sugar Cookies and I swear this IS the last year I make them! It is a LOT of work to go through and so much clean up involved in it! Flour all over everything. I truly would like to see the Amish woman that can make this recipe without making a mess of things. The only thing good is the end result, especially after the cookies have been frosted….and ya sit down with that first cup of coffee. This IS the only time of year that I would consider having cookies before noon!

I don’t know how Christmas was when you were a kid; there was always great anticipation in our household. But my Grandpa had a “weird” sense of humor. In order to keep me in line he would tell me that if I wasn’t good that all there would be in my Christmas stocking was lumps of coal and maybe some straw. I think MY anticipation stemmed from the fact that I was not always good and what in the heck could I do with coal and straw??? Since we didn’t have child psychology in those days, I’m not sure that this was such a good idea on Grandpa’s part. But to get even with my mom, dad and grandparents one time, I spent the better part of the morning playing with my lumps of coal and handful of straw.

When my Grandparents were alive, Christmas was celebrated on Christmas Eve at our home. My Grandpa First died a week before Christmas when I was in the 8th grade. This was the Grandpa I wrote about that use to take me fishing. I had gotten him a tie for Christmas that year (original, I know) and my Dad suggested that we could open it and Grandpa would wear it to be buried in. And as the years went on, more grandparents were lost to us. All part of growing up, but those are the fondest Christmas memories….until I had my own child, and then later on 2 stepsons.

I don’t recall minding the floury mess when I let the kids make Christmas cookies. In fact I don’t even remember the mess! This year was my grown daughter’s very first attempt of making these cookies. She had never tried making rolled cookies. She is an excellent cook; does a heck of a pie and can decorate a cake but has never tried the rolled cookie dough.

When she got done baking her whole batch of Amish Sugar Cookies, she called to tell me she would never do that again….too much clean up and she had a heck of a time getting the knack of keeping things floured so nothing stuck to nothing. However, they DID taste good.

My daughter JUST called while I was typing the sentence about not recalling a mess when the kids made cookies…and she said SHE didn’t recall the mess either. She also went on to say that she didn’t realize till this year that the one cookie cutter was Santa with his bag slung on his back. As a child and up till now, she always wondered why we had an astronaut cookie cutter! I guess it does kind of look like that!

We haven’t had Christmas with family since 1991 so Dan and I don’t do a whole lot for the holiday. So, whatever traditions that you have, I hope that you are able to pass them along to your kids or other members of your family….even if they do make a mess! Those messes can lead to fond memories!

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